What Factors Affect Travel Agent Rates?

Lainie Petersen

Travel agent rates depend on the types of travel products that they sell, the amount of consultation that they offer clients, and their own expertise. In situations where a travel agent sells clients travel products that pay little or no commission, such as airline tickets, rates are typically set to ensure that the travel agent is fairly compensated for his or her time. Fees and rates for consulting services are more likely to depend on the experience that a travel agent has in providing travel services or his or her knowledge of a particular geographical region or type of travel. Travel agent rates may also be set in accordance with the cost of living in the area where the travel agent operates.

Travel agent rates vary depending on how many arrangements the agent must make.
Travel agent rates vary depending on how many arrangements the agent must make.

With the advent of Internet-based travel services, many travel vendors such as airlines, hotels and package operators have reduced or eliminated commissions paid to travel consultants and agents. As a result, these travel experts have had to institute travel agent rates in order to remain in business. In some cases, these rates are in place to compensate a travel agent that secures a non-commission or low commission travel service for his or her clients. These rates and fees may be waived in situations where a travel customer purchases other travel products that provide the agent with a sufficient commission. For example, if a client books an overseas trip and purchases an airline ticket, a resort package and ground transportation services, the travel agent may waive his standard booking fee for the airline ticket as he will receive an ample commission from the other travel purchases.

Some airline have eliminated commissions paid to travel agents, requiring the agents to impose a travel agent rate.
Some airline have eliminated commissions paid to travel agents, requiring the agents to impose a travel agent rate.

Some travel agent rates are intended to compensate experienced travel agents for their time in researching travel options and providing advice to clients. These rates are typically charged as a way of protecting the travel agent from spending time counseling a potential client on travel options only to lose out on any commissions when the client books his or her travel directly or with another travel agent. Fees vary according to the type of research that the travel agent will perform on behalf of his or her client as well as whether the travel agent must go to additional expense in securing travel options such as making international phone calls or sending faxes to various travel vendors. As with airline ticket fees, these charges will sometimes be waived by a travel agent if a client makes a significant purchase.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - I would check out the policies of my travel agent before assuming that they will do things like that, particularly for free. I think most of the time they expect a small payment for their services, and fair enough.

I've never been able to understand how they manage to do what they do for free, but I guess the airlines pay them pretty well for directing flights their way.


@browncoat - Ideally, what a person should do is investigate all the fares beforehand online, trying to find the best ones (it's not always price, you have to consider the times you'll arrive or leave which can mean the difference between a hotel room and so forth) and then go to a travel agent and see what they can get you.

Then figure out what flights are the same when you go with the agent and only book those through them, particularly if they are the long-haul flights.

Because a travel agent will often let you use them as an emergency service for no extra cost, and often it's much more useful to call them if your flight is delayed than to call your mother. They are like an additional layer of free insurance.


I remember I went to a student-travel expert when I was planning for my first trip overseas by myself and she was awesome. She helped me to find all kinds of good deals and put together my trip, then basically took me aside and advised that I find the fares for travel inside the States on my own online.

She explained that there were a couple of really cheap airlines that she couldn't book because they didn't give a percentage to travel agents, but that they would be much cheaper than if I tried to book other flights through her.

And she was absolutely right, I saved a few hundred dollars with that tip which she didn't have to give me. I'll always think fondly of her for that, and that's the reason I always try to use a travel agent, even if I'm fairly sure where I want to go and how much it's going to cost.

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